Solar photovoltaics (PVs) and sustainable fuel production from photocatalysis are key technologies to displacing fossil fuel use. However, in order to drive rapid growth in PVs, and the commercial viability of photocatalytic solar fuel production, innovative technological approaches are needed to increase efficiencies while keeping costs low.
FENCES aims to demonstrate a new mechanism for solar energy conversion and use this to drive up the efficiencies of these key technologies. This will draw on a phenomenon found in ferroelectrics, known as the bulk photovoltaic (BPV) effect. While this has demonstrated photovoltages above the theoretical limit for conventional PVs, efficiency has remained low due to poor light absorption and charge transport. FENCES will overcome these limitations by intimately combining ferroelectrics and photoactive materials in nanocomposite thin films. This will couple the high electric field from the ferroelectric to the photoactive material, demonstrating novel behaviour with the potential to exceed the performance of current technologies.
In order to achieve this, FENCES will:
1. Design and synthesise optimal ferroelectric nanostructures and gain control over their properties, including the BPV effect, through careful study and tuning of the material properties in both precision model systems and low-cost, solution-based materials;
2. Develop detailed device models to accurately describe and predict the behaviour of these novel devices, incorporating progressive knowledge and understanding throughout the project using both empirical data and computational modelling;
3. Use these models to predict the optimum materials, structures and designs to demonstrate this novel technology and optimise device performance;
4. Fabricate and test proof-of-concept devices based on these optimised designs to validate the models and prove the hypothesis, establishing a new frontier in solar energy generation and wider science.
Field of science
- /engineering and technology/environmental engineering/energy and fuels/energy conversion
- /engineering and technology/materials engineering/coating and films
- /engineering and technology/materials engineering/nanocomposites
- /engineering and technology/environmental engineering/energy and fuels/renewable energy/solar energy
Call for proposal
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